Frey’s Win is a Loss for Minneapolis

Nyasa HM, contributor

Elections give citizens the potential to be the change they want to see in the world. In Minneapolis’ recent election, incumbent mayor Jacob Frey ran on the platform of working alongside the police, while frontrunners Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth took more progressive stances in reinvestment of police funds. On Election day, voters showed up in the expected patterns, with old, white affluent voters dominating the polls. The great moderate way, if you will. But moderates are not the majority, so I found myself questioning the results. How can a city that started such a massive global social movement fall back into the ways of simplicity and modesty? Where is the change people wanted to see while burning buildings and fighting for a new and better future for the safety in Minneapolis? 

Because I am an advocate for the working class, marginalized communities and Justice for George Floyd, I was thrilled to campaign for Sheila for The People this year. It gave me the opportunity and difficult task of getting people to actively contribute to progress in addition to protesting, and dialoguing instead of performing their interest on social media through “virtue signaling.” 

On the other hand, many politically engaged Minnesotans and U.S. citizens alike vote on the side of caution. Many believe the moderate stance holds the most rationale. Perhaps it creates a sense of safety or feeling of doing your civic duty without pushing anyone’s buttons. I say push all the buttons. In a recent retreat I attended, it was stated that citizens who vote moderately are not the citizens doing the most research on candidates, or who have the most knowledge in policy or politics. They’re statistically the people more likely to vote in favor of simply the last candidate’s name they heard. While canvassing for Sheila Nezhad, I learned that saying a candidate’s name seven times is one of the biggest factors in improving a person’s chance to vote in their favor. Unfortunately for Nezhad, the campaigning and outreach was ultimately not enough for this race as Mayor Frey took the win with 53%. 

What’s stronger than two progressive women – one a first generation, queer, renter candidate OF and not ABOVE the people? One affluent white man, with the help of bucket loads of money and filibustering.

The results of this election created tension as usual from the political opposing activists. There was one protest following the day of the election for citizens, mostly young people, to express their disappointment towards Mayor Frey and his support for the police department. I wish they had all gathered to vote. I wish they all had taken their passion to the polls. 

When the dust cleared from the war of election day, and all the battles throughout the summer and fall campaigning, it became unmistakably clear. Most people would rather attend to their personal struggles. Especially in a pandemic, capitalism doesn’t give most people time or freedom to “dwell” on the happenings of the Earth, or the well-being of a stranger. It’s hard to care about policy making until you can’t drink the water coming out of your faucet. If it doesn’t cross paths with you, you can ignore it. Until you’re shown the institutions, scraping at and breaking all bridges to marginalized success. They’re just microaggressions. Until the brick is a wall, cemented over thousands of cultures and lives. The police protect and serve, until the next Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Daunte Wright or George Floyd. Sheila for the People’s campaign began dialogue for change among over 30,000 Minneapolis citizens. A brand new movement to Minnesota and the world at large.

This is just the beginning. For the working class, for the marginalized, for people experiencing homelessness, for all of our neighbors and for ourselves – show up. And show out! As much as you possibly can, always.